Use Technology For Attracting Serious Home Buyers

ERA Real Estate and HGTV reported 46 percent of consumers see smart-home technology as important for their current and future residences. But luxury homebuyers are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. According to Digital Interiors, 94 percent of buyers surveyed would sacrifice 1,000 square feet of living space for more technology in their new home. Oversized houses are no longer the driving trend in the luxury real estate market and agents are under pressure to respond to the demand. Here’s what affluent homebuyers are looking for and which gadgets are must-haves.

Get a Smart Thermostat

Outfit your listings for luxury with smart-home additions like a smart thermostat. The Nest programs itself based on your preferences and can adjust whenever you leave to conserve energy. Your clients can control the system right from their smartphones. Owners can warm up the living room before an evening entertaining clients. Talk about how they can jet set to their vacation home and simply check-in on their property as needed. The idea behind a smart thermostat is really about controlling the overall climate of the home as opposed to an exact temperature.

Enhance your Home Surveillance

Home security systems have always dabbled in the high-tech world of smart automation. In the past, most alarms simply triggered an annoying sound and contacted the police at signs of danger.

Today, home security cameras keep an eye on the inside and outside of the home with wireless cameras. A wireless camera system can be mounted to the wall or ceiling and monitored remotely. Home buyers are sure to be wowed by its sleek and discreet design. Some home security companies, like Lorex Technology, even offer subscription-free monitoringoptions, yet another attractive feature for potential buyers.

New owners can keep an eye on their home from vacation, at work or on a spontaneous outing without worry.

Go High-Tech Culinary

Updating a kitchen has always been a recommended way to raise a home’s price tag and attract buyers. But affluent home shoppers are looking for more than just new appliances and chef’s kitchens. The latest technology trends include no-touch faucets and smart refrigeratorsthat can alert you when you’re running low on groceries. The LG model features an internal camera to check on its contents, built-in Wi-Fi to connect to your mobile device and offers available accessories that can be 3-D printed. Other high-tech touches like Bluetooth smart cooking thermometers tell your mobile device when your food is ready to create perfect dishes every time.

Upgrade your Luxury Entertainment

Just about every home has a flat-screen television; some piped for surround sound and home theaters. Let your clients take entertaining to a new level by controlling everything from one devicelike Savant. Your clients can adjust the lighting, change the channel on your smart TV and turn on music. A system like Savant can also help monitor your home’s security and adjust the climate as needed. While clients are getting ready upstairs for an evening with friends, they can adjust the entertainment area and living room downstairs to create a luxurious atmosphere.

WRITTEN BY REALTY TIMES STAFF

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STAGING A PHOTO READY HOME

Your home’s first impression may not be one that is face to face with a prospective buyer. In today’s world, 84 percent (National Association of Realtors) of home buyers start their search online. That’s an impressive figure, and one that means your home needs to make a strong virtual impression.

Part of this impression is made through online photos. And as you begin the listing process, your agent will want to set up a time to come and photograph your home.

How can you stage your home to be photo ready?

Showing your home is about creating a story line. A home buyer is looking for certain amenities and specifications during their buying process, but in addition, they are looking for a home that will give them the lifestyle they seek. To answer this need, you must make sure your home has an ambiance that is appealing.

A properly staged home can tell this story in pictures.

To create a virtual experience and ambiance, one must develop a plan. What is the demographic of your buyers? Is this a home that will interest empty-nesters, large families, or vacationers?

Once you have distinguished this, then consider what story each room should display.

A step for all buyers is to remove clutter. Grab a box and walk through each room. Pick up the kids’ toys and games. Take your old magazines and papers to the recycling bin.

Next, tidy up. Buyers will notice if there are marks on the wall and dust bunnies on the floor. They will notice if your kitchen sink is full of dishes. So, sweep the floors and wipe down counters and mirrors. Replace burnt out light bulbs. And give each surface a nice dusting.

Now, make repairs. If you have very obvious issues in your home that need attention, there will be buyers who notice. This includes that cabinet door you took off to repair, and the tile work that needs regrouted. It also includes terribly dated wallpapers and borders. Making these repairs before your photos are taken could increase the number of buyers who request a showing.

Now that your rooms are clean, de-cluttered, and in good repair, its time to “edit.” Step back and take a look at each room with new eyes. Less is more when it comes to photos. You want a story line, yes, but you also want the room itself to shine through. Remove unnecessary knick-knacks and decor.

Is this a home that has good entertaining potential? Set up your dining room and table with your best china. Light candles and set out fresh flowers. In your kitchen, have a plate of fresh baked cookies sitting on a plate. And don’t forget to take pictures of the yard and landscaping, as well.

During the photography session, embrace natural light. Not only do buyers look for homes that are light and bright, but natural light also has a way of opening up spaces. Try to arrange a time for a photographer to come when the sun is out!

Be sure the photographer takes several pictures of each room and from different angles. Most MLS sites allow for your agent to list over 20 pictures of a home. This means you should show your buyer as many pictures as possible, in order to give them the clearest vision of you home and its setup.

Good luck during your selling process!

Written by Realty Times Staff

SELLER’S ADVICE: WHY ARE REAL ESTATE COMMISSIONS SO HIGH?

Who gets all that commission money when you sell your home? Most real estate agents bill sellers approximately six percent of the sales price, which can be a really nice payday. Sometimes the agent can make more out of the deal than you do. So why does it cost so much?

Nearly nine out of 10 real estate agents work on commission, and are paid only when the transaction closes. Except for the legal profession, real estate agents are the only fiduciaries and agents who work this way.

Commissions are paid according to the terms of two contracts – the listing agreement and the sales contract.

To simplify how commissions are routed, the real estate industry customarily allows all sales commissions to be paid out of the seller’s proceeds, according to the terms of the listing agreement. The five, six or seven percent commission that is negotiated is given to the listing agent, or listing broker.

According to licensing law, only licensed brokers can serve as fiduciaries. They have “agents” or licensed salespeople who work for them, but they have the legal responsibilities of operating the brokerage.

The salesperson license allows salespeople to serve as agents of the broker. They can negotiate contracts, but the seller is actually negotiating with the broker, by proxy. It’s the broker’s company name and signature on the listing contract.

Once the home is listed in the multiple listing service, (MLS) the listing broker discloses the terms of the commissions to other competing brokers, so they will bring their buyers to the listing.

When the buyer’s broker presents a contract to the seller, it will include a provision to collect their share of the sales commission, as offered by the listing agent in the MLS.

That means a commission can be split as many as four ways:

  • Listing broker or agent
  • Listing salesperson
  • Buyer’s broker or agent
  • Buyer’s salesperson

At closing, the listing agent is paid by the escrow agent out of the seller’s proceeds, or a day or two later when the buyer’s loan is funded by the lender. The listing agent, in turn, pays the buyer’s agent his or her share of the sales commission.

All commissions are negotiable, but sellers should keep in mind that commissions are incentives.

Written by Blanche Evans

13 BRUTALLY HONEST REASONS YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO SELL YOUR HOUSE ON YOUR OWN

Thinking about selling your house without a real estate agent? It’s a choice some people make, mainly to try to save some money. But the number of people who list their home For Sale By Owner is in decline. “Eight percent of home sellers chose to list themselves – a record low of for-sale-by-owner transactions,” according to a National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) survey.

So why isn’t it a good idea to go it alone? Let us count the ways.

1. Because you’re not thinking with your head

No matter how level-headed you think you are, selling your home is emotional. When someone comes in with a lowball offer or offends your decorating style, will you be able to remain professional, or are the cops going to have to get involved because you punched a guy?

2. Because you think your house looks fine as is

And it may, for everyday living. But a “lived-in” house is not going to wow buyers. Beyond the obvious tips of making your house sparkling clean, a Realtor will help you declutter and depersonalize to get it in selling shape.

3. Because you clearly have no sense of smell

If you did, you’d know your house smells like crap. Cat crap, to be exact. Or maybe it’s just musty, which could give potential buyers the idea that there are water issues (which there may very well be). A real estate agent would undoubtedly make you address any odor issues, along with a whole host of other staging stuff to make your place look – and smell – good.


Simpty
4. Because Formica countertops went out in the ‘60s

Actually, were they ever really in? A dated kitchen isn’t just going to affect your sales price. It may keep you from getting offers altogether. The rule about kitchens and bathrooms selling homes is still true; even small but impactful changes can help substantially, which Realtors are keenly aware of. Trying to save a buck by listing a home yourself and not making even small changes can hurt you in the end.

5. Because you have a view of the freeway

Think it’s gonna be easy to distract from the eyesore down the street or the overwhelming noise in the backyard? Nope. But an agent will give it their all in ways you may not have thought of or be skilled in, using smart pricing and marketing strategies to deflect, downplay, or refocus attention on other, more attractive elements of the home.


Survive Institute
6. Because you don’t know thousands of people. And you’re not connected to hundreds of agents.

That’s the difference an agent can make in using their network to market your home far and wide and getting it in front of potential buyers.

7. Because you need to come down $20k from your “dream” sales price

Then come down another $10k. Then you might actually be close to market value. This goes back to that “emotional” process thing. Your home isn’t worth the memories you made there, or the work you put in. Market value is market value, and a real estate agent will have a much easier time establishing that and sticking to it.

8. Because what you call charming and eclectic may just be seen by buyers as tiny and outdated.

You may not be able to get real about the reality of your home. But your Realtor will.

9. Because the only offer you got was $30,000 below your asking price

Know how to proceed? What if you play hardball and lose the only bite you’ve had? What if you agree and always regret the idea that you left money on the table?

10. Because the inspection report showed all kinds of unpleasant stuff, and now the buyer wants a big, fat credit

It’s an agent’s job to handle the multiple unpleasant details that would make a regular person run toward a quiet space to roll up into the fetal position. The fact that you don’t have to do any of the negotiating – not on sales price to begin with, not on whether or not you can include your master bedroom furniture, set of luggage, lawn chairs, and collection of vintage cookbooks in the home sale, and not on who’s going to pay to fix the leaky roof and the cracked living room window – is well worth the commission you pay.


Moving Mountains Design
11. That overgrown mess you call a front yard

Curb appeal is critical to getting your home sold. A real estate agent will help you focus on the simple steps to get it in good shape. Fail to address this key area and those coming to see your home may just pass on by.

12. You

Yes, you. You could be the No. 1 deterrent to getting your house sold, starting with the house tour. Shadowing potential buyers while they check out the house, pestering them with questions about how they like it, interrupting their agent to add in inconsequential details – all of these things may turn off buyers and send them off to the next home.

Agents know what to emphasize and how to give potential buyers space. Crowding and/or annoying them may be enough to make them walk. After all, if dealing with you during the home tour is a drag, who’s going to want to deal with that during the escrow?

13. And the most important reason of all: the money.

“In reality, homes sold by the owner make less money overall,” according to the NAR.

By the numbers: “The median selling price for all FSBO homes was $210,000 last year. When the buyer knew the seller in FSBO sales, the number sinks to the median selling price of $151,900,” they said. “However, homes that were sold with the assistance of an agent had a median selling price of $249,000 — nearly $40,000 more for the typical home sale.”

Still want to do it on your own?

Written by Jaymi Naciri

5 FRONT YARD LANDSCAPING TIPS THAT WILL WOW BUYERS

Your front yard is the red carpet inviting buyers into the beauty that is your home. If it’s rugged, messy and unkempt, buyers will take one look and then keep on driving to the next property on their list. Don’t let that happen by making your front yard luscious and as amazing as the inside of your home.

What areas should you focus on in your front yard? Where do you start? To help you break down the revitalization of your front yard, here are the steps you should take:

1. Cut the grass.

Buyers don’t want to trudge through high grass as though they were in the Amazon or on a safari in Africa. This means the lawn mower needs to be out at least once a week if not every other week, keeping it trimmed and maintained. It also needs to be green so it looks alive and lush. Water so the sun doesn’t dry out the lawn and turn it yellow or brown. A professional landscaper can help maintain a balance of trimming and growth so it looks just right for buyers.

2. Plant more shade trees.

One or two trees in the front yard are all right, but if you want to really add some shade, plant more. Shade trees will detract from the glare of the sun, and it can help decrease the temperature of the house if they’re placed close to windows. It also will help keep the lawn green with moisture. You can plant trees that are shorter and will grow by the time the new owner buys the home, but be sure they’re strong and can handle the climate.

3. Install outdoor lighting.

Outdoor lighting is a good way to both illuminate the house at night and accent parts of your yard. Depending on where you install the lights, your house will look very appealing at night to those buyers who might not have time to do their shopping during the day. Outdoor lighting also helps to illuminate a path like a sidewalk to get from the curb to your front door for easier navigation. It helps to accent the beauty of your landscaping which all together increases the beauty of your home.

4. Consider adding flowers for more color.

If your front yard has a lot of greenery, you should increase the yard appeal by adding more colors. Flowers are a great and simple way to do this, as well as shrubbery with different blooms. Perennials are the best for this because they last for more than a year, which means less maintenance for the seller and the new homeowner. They come in a wide variety of colors and types so the yard can be decorated with any number of them while still requiring less maintenance.

5. Keep everything clean!

In addition to keeping the lawn trimmed, everything else should be clean. Anywhere that can build up dirt or grime – siding, porch, front door, driveway – should be cleaned on a regular basis. Buyers don’t want to see a lot of dirt and mess, and it will detract from them wanting to walk into the house. So take a broom, a power washer and a few hours on the weekend to keep everything sparkling clean. Don’t have a power washer? A professional power washing service can cost as little as $293.

Photos courtesy of DesignMine

Written by Realty Times Staff

A SELLER’S GUIDE TO A WINNING OPEN HOUSE

Holding an open house for your soon-to-be-listed or newly on the market home is a lot like being on a game show where edging out the other contestants in a short period of time is key. In TV game shows, such as “Jeopardy,” the contestants don’t automatically know answers to so many trivia questions; they study and they plan and they make it appear to viewers like they walk around with that body of knowledge every day. Open houses need to be thought of similarly. Once your home is on the market, an open house is your opportunity to plan and strategize how you are going to win over buyers in very short time.

Even in a strong real estate market where houses sell quickly, it’s still important to ask your agent to hold as many open houses as possible until the home sells. One reason is that even buyers with agents still like to look at homes on their own without feeling the pressure of a home tour. Sometimes their agent is out of town when your house goes on the market. Many buyers are not represented by an agent and the only way for them to tour a home is through an open house. Your agent will plan the open house to include everything from signage to freshly baked cookies. As a seller, you should take the following steps:

Depersonalize

Back to the game show analogy, think of depersonalizing as studying the answers and questions before trying out for “Jeopardy.” Your house is lovely for how you live in it, but buyers don’t want to see youin your house. In fact, the more your house makes it difficult to guess who lives there (age, religion, gender etc), the better. Take down personal photos, religious emblems, the cute collection of mini ceramic frogs, etc. Analyze your stuff for whether it’s morally, politically, or otherwise socially objectionable and remove all of it. You don’t want to eliminate buyers because they are turned off by your personal tastes.

Declutter

While you are depersonalizing it’s also a good time to declutter as the two go hand in hand. The more simple and understated your home is, the more likely buyers can see the home for what it is and imagine themselves in it. When you have too much stuff cluttering walls and counters and shelves, buyers turn their focus toward those things and sometimes even make the assumption in logic that if you are cluttery, then you are disorganized, which means maybe you don’t take care of the house as well or as on time as you should. A good rule of thumb is to box up or store at least half of the smaller items displayed in your home.

For example, how much is on your kitchen counter right now? Now imagine reducing that number to just three things. What would you choose to keep versus store? Some sellers are benefited by going to other open houses in their area and looking at how other people have decluttered and arranged what is left. Online pictures, such as what is found on Pinterest, can help too. Often you can get some good ideas on what works visually just by seeing how others do it. When you are all done decluttering, clean your home like never before because buyers notice dirt and grime. Hire a maid service if you have to.

Lure Them In

The outside of your home is as important as the inside, especially the front entry area. Before an open house, take care of simple yard maintenance such as mowing, edging and weeding flower beds. A fresh layer of mulch adds color especially in winter months when not much is blooming. At your front door, clean off spider webs, blown leaves, and place a large, colorful pot of annuals or anything you can buy in season.

Complete Your Honey-Do List

While you have the yard power tools out, dust of your workbench and take a walk around your house inside and out. Make a list of all maintenance issues such as wiggly door handles, missing fascia, paint that has chipped, etc. and repair them before the open house. Buyers see even the smallest of maintenance issues as an extension of the condition of larger items such as roofs, plumbing and major appliances and assume you haven’t taken care of the home. You might talk to your realtor about a pre-inspection to deal with all home maintenance and problems upfront, before you get into contract with a buyer.

Be Cautious

Once you have taken the above steps and you are ready for the actual open house, there’s one last thing to plan. Protecting your valuables and identity. It might be rare, but criminals do use open houses as a way to case a house or to find collateral to steal identities. Make sure indoor safes are locked and hidden. Store heirlooms, checkbooks, prescriptions, and valuable jewelry away from prying eyes. Utilize a reliable, trustworthy, identity theft protection service to see you through the entire listing and sales process.

Written by Realty Times Staff